MMORPG: TERA continues to evolve in the MMO market. What is the state of the game like today for players?
Patrick Sun: We’ve all seen a lot of changes in the MMO market this past year, and with more free games than ever before, players have a wide selection of quality titles—all of them competing for players’ time. With our award-winning combat system and our upcoming fully-free model, TERA will definitely be a free game to put on your radar.
As for TERA itself, our players have helped us build an amazing community. We continually look to them to see how we as a publisher can improve the quality of life in and out of game. This can mean anything from streaming dungeon runs to making game adjustments, or even supporting community-run events with marketing and prizes.
MMORPG: The choice to go Free to Play is always a major decision. What were some of the challenges you faced while making the switch?
Patrick Sun: When we first started looking at different business models, we looked at what was out there and quickly realized there’s no one way to provide a free experience to players. Especially today, there are so many great free titles in the market; just being “free” isn’t enough to get people excited about your game.
The other challenge was combating the stereotypical image a “free” MMO brings. Even personally—when a game claims to be free, I immediately question it. “Okay, but when will you force me to pay?” A lot of gamers probably feel this way as well. And though we faced some tough challenges, it really helped us mold TERA: Rising into something unique and different.
MMORPG: Your plan allows players to choose how they want to pay for the game. How did you define the Founder and Elite status vs. free play? Have you learned from other models?
Patrick Sun: A lot of the competitor models we looked at involved taking something away from the game and putting it up behind a “pay wall” of sorts. For TERA: Rising, our primary goal was to make sure the free user wasn’t treated like a “free user.”
Standard players get to experience TERA: Rising completely free. This means all the content, dungeons, battlegrounds, and quests—all without a fee. They’ll have the full experience.
With our founders, anyone who’s purchased the client, we wanted TERA to be no less than what it was before. The transition from TERA to TERA: Rising should be seamless for them.
Our elite status is designed to give players more of what TERA offers rather than artificially taking something away and charging for it. We looked at ways to enhance their gameplay and provide convenience and prestige items without overpowering them.
MMORPG: What updates are coming to the world of TERA with this change?
Patrick Sun: TERA: Rising isn’t just us switching to a free model. We have a lot of game updates coming our way including both PvP and PvE content. For instance, our players have been clamoring for a 3v3 arena system to go along with our 15v15 Battleground which will be coming with our TERA: Rising update. It’s called Champions’ Skyring.
We will also be introducing the Crucible of Flame, a new competitive dungeon with rankings. Along with these updates, we’ll be adding enhancements to the current game—enhancements players have been asking for, such as reduced battleground item costs and increased enchanting success.
MMORPG: The new dungeon is called the Crucible of Flame. Can you give us a history behind the new challenge for players?
Patrick Sun: The Crucible of Flame predates the Argon War and the founding of the Valkyon Federation by several centuries. The gods created it to test the great mortal heroes of their age—and perhaps to snuff out those mortals who got too presumptuous. CoF is a scored dungeon; you're effectively competing against all the heroes of history (not to mention everyone else on your server).
MMORPG: The new battleground is three vs. three. Those can be pretty intense matches, how did you come to that number, and how is it different from the traditional fights?
Patrick Sun: With TERA and our combat system, organized PvP varies from 1v1, 3v3s, 5v5s, to 15v15s. Each group size requires different strategies in terms of how players work together, what class and play style combinations work for them, and so on. Our current 15v15 battleground (Fraywind Canyon) gives players a chance to work as one big team, but isn’t really a chance to let your individual skills shine. The 3v3’s let players incorporate that teamwork aspect, but since it’s a smaller group, there is no cavalry coming to the save the day.
The biggest difference between 3v3 and traditional, open-world death matches is that it’s set in a confined space where no one else can interfere. It also restricts players from using certain charms and potions that otherwise provide an unfair advantage to one team. This should make for some intense battles where player skill will really shine.
MMORPG: With the new pricing model, are there plans for updates that separate the different types of players? Stuff for paid members, but not free, etc?
Patrick Sun: There are no plans that give content updates only to paying members. Elite status will provide you with conveniences, but not to the point where one can access content that others can’t.
MMORPG: What does TERA have in store for 2013? Aside from making the subscription optional, of course!
Patrick Sun: Our political system is one of the unique features of TERA. It offers a way for players to directly engage with one another in a manner that isn’t always about combat. Later in 2013, we plan to make it even more exciting for players as we revamp this system to be even better. More dungeons are also coming, as well as new BAMs to fight. Also in store is a 20v20 battleground that should provide some pretty epic battles on a scale we haven’t seen in TERA. We’ll have a lot more information on these things in the coming months—2013 is going to be a pretty exciting year for us, and we can’t wait to show everyone.